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Car seats are supposed to keep our youngest children safe. But though they may protect infants and toddlers during accidents, car seats have a history of containing toxic flame-retardant chemicals.
That’s finally changing.
Today, a coalition of groups including U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Ecology Center’s “Healthy Stuff” program released test results on car seats in a new report, Hidden Hazards: Flame Retardants and PFAS in Children’s Car Seats. The authors collaborated with researchers from Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame.
The testing confirmed that three companies now each offer a car seat without added toxic flame-retardant chemicals. Those products are: UPPAbaby MESA -- Jordan and Henry models (infant), Clek Fllo -- Mammoth (convertible), and Nuna PIPA Lite -- Fog (infant).
“It’s great that there are finally safer alternatives available and on the market for parents,” said Kara Cook-Schultz of U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “But we need better standards for all children who are exposed to these chemicals in car seats.”
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is joining public health groups from across the country in a national effort to update the government’s decades-old flame-retardant chemical standards, by publicly calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update its flammability standards, allowing more parents the ability to purchase toxic-free car seats. The government has never fully evaluated the effectiveness of the flammability standard for children’s car seats.
Toxic flame-retardant chemicals used in children’s car seats can harm major systems in the body, including the hormonal, developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems.
The Healthy Stuff study tested 18 children’s car seats including infant and convertible models. Eighty-three percent (15) of the seats contained hazardous flame-retardant chemical additives and 50 percent (9) likely contained hazardous PFAS (per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances) chemicals on the fabric. All seats tested were purchased in 2018 and manufactured in 2017 or later.
Manufacturers choose to add PFAS (per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances) because they are stain-resistant, but some manufacturers are now looking at new alternatives to make car seats not only protective from blunt force, but also from dangerous chemicals.
“UPPAbaby developed the first naturally fire-retardant car seat because our passionate consumer base wanted a natural alternative. So, I challenged our R&D team to come up with something that had never been done before,” said Bob Monahan, CEO of UPPAbaby. “I believe that through innovation, businesses can be a driver to provide parents with options and healthier, safer products.”
Important note: Child car seats are mandatory safety devices that save lives. Regardless of any chemical concerns, parents should always properly install and use a children’s car seat.
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